The recently retired South African ambassador to Israel has sent a letter to pro-Arab, anti-Israel activists in which he slammed Israel’s "replication of apartheid."
The contents of the letter sent by Ismail Coovadia were published Tuesday.
In it, Coovadia explained his decision to reject a symbolic gift from the Israeli government — planting trees in his honor in a national park named after South Africa.
He explained that Israeli policies which, he claims, discriminate against Palestinian Authority Arabs appeared to be reminiscent of his experiences under South Africa's apartheid system.
“Regrettably, my permission was not sought to plant a tree/s in my or the name of a South African Ambassador on usurped land, the rightful land of the Palestinians and Bedouins. I reserve the right to the usage of my name with or without my permission,” Coovadia wrote.
“I was not a party to, and never will be, to the planting of ‘18 trees,’ in my ‘honor,’ on expropriated and stolen land,” he added.
Coovadia, who completed his four-year term in January, confirmed the letter's contents. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Tuesday that Coovadia did not made such complaints during his term.
The claim that Israel carries out a policy of “apartheid” against Arabs is used by both anti-Israel organization as well as by leaders of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli Arabs, however, have the right to vote, serve in the Knesset, study in Israeli universities, share the same hospitals and public facilities and work alongside Israeli Jews.
At the same time, the same PA leaders who slam Israel’s so-called “apartheid” have clarified that if a Palestinian state is ever established, no Israeli citizen will be allowed to set foot inside.
The incident involving the former ambassador is the latest in a series of incidents involving South Africa over the past year.
In April, South Africa imposed new rules requiring that goods imported from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem display special labels.
The new rules stipulate that goods will no longer carry "Made in Israel" labels but instead will have to be specific about the exact origin of the goods.
Last year, South African Minister Rob Davies issued an announcement warning merchants “not to incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.”
He later rejected “with utter contempt” suggestions that there were racial motivations for his move, saying his department was neither seeking to promote a boycott of Israeli goods nor to prevent the entry of such products into South Africa.
Students at the South African the University of the Witwatersrand voted several months ago to boycott Israeli institutions.
The resolution passed by the university’s student council states that the University will “not participate in any form of cultural or academic collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions and will not provide support to Israeli cultural or academic institutions”.